Dance team performs at state competition

Jeralyn Wessel — Staff Writer

The Dordt University Dance Team loaded into buses around 4:45 on the morning of Friday, Dec. 2, and left for the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The team performed three routines for the Iowa State Dance and Drill Team Association (ISDTA) state competition, featuring pom, hip hop, and jazz, receiving division one placements in all three. The jazz routine placed third overall.

“We were very happy with our placement, and it was a great starting point for us as we now transition into our larger competition season,” Head Dance and Cheer Coach Mel Knobloch said.

The state competition marks the end of these routines for the dance team, as they begin learning new routines for competition season. While state is the culmination of the season for most high school teams, the competitive college dance season begins in January and continues through March with six to eight competitions. Since state is outside of regular season NAIA competitions, Knobloch and some dancers view the performance in Des Moines as a good practice run for performing in front of large crowds.

The dance team is currently in its seventh year as a varsity sport at Dordt, and the team has more than tripled in size since its start. The influx of fourteen freshman this year alone has fueled new opportunities. With around thirty dancers, the team can now split into two squads: competition and gametime. While the competition squad prepares routines for dance invites, the gametime team prepares routines for halftime shows during basketball games and other events.

Even with the split team, Knobloch continues to promote the familial culture within the group. A committee of dancers organizes monthly events for the team bonding. Whether eating a meal at the coach’s house or packing Operation Christmas Child boxes, the girls invest time in building relationships with their teammates.

“We all love to dance, so we are not super competitive with each other which is nice,” Payton Oostenink, a senior on the dance team, said. “We are all just really encouraging and support each other no matter what – whether you’re in the routine or not.”

As competition season draws closer and begins, the team will continue to practice about two hours daily to master their intense routines. Each new competition will bring a chance for the team to perfect a little more of their routine and gain more points compared to their NAIA competitors. Knobloch sees the national competition as the end goal of the season and will continually help her team to improve their scores and increase the difficulty of their routines throughout the season.

Dordt will host a competition on Feb. 18 next semester in the DeWitt Gymnasium. Both the cheer and dance teams will be competing.

Oostenink said she is looking forward to this contest at home.

“I think that competition does a good job of showing people what a dance competition is,” Oostenink said. “A lot of people don’t think that dance is a sport…these competitions show how competitive of a sport it is.”

Contributed photo

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